Multi-generational living is a growing trend with technological and medical advancements making it easier for families to support their elderly loved ones in a home. Rather than outsourcing the care and companionship needed for older family members to a nursing home or retirement community, homeowners are now considering upgrades to their houses to allow for a more comfortable situation for parents and grandparents.
But older individuals have different needs than younger generations. A home that serves a growing family well may not be suited for a senior to thrive. Fortunately, there are changes that you can make to your home to adapt to their needs.
To prepare your home for multi-generational living, here are some suggestions for upgrades and renovations that you could make to foster the perfect environment for everyone involved.
If you have the budget for it, adding additional space to your home may be the solution for providing a comfortable place for your older family member to move into. This could be an almost separate living space with its own bathroom, kitchen, and bedroom, or it could just be an extra bedroom if the rest of the house can cater to their needs. You may even have a spare bedroom downstairs that has no function that could use a bathroom as an addition.
Doing this can give your loved one their own space and privacy that they can value as opposed to incorporating them into the already busy areas of the house. If the renovations start to add up, you can employ strategies to rein in the budget and prevent excessive spending.
One of the biggest challenges for an elderly individual is their decreasing mobility. Stairs become harder to navigate, effectively cutting off half of the home from access. There are several solutions that you could employ to address this problem and give your loved one the freedom to move throughout the house.
You can add in a stair lift that allows the individual to sit and glide up the stairs with the manipulation of simple controls. Another option is to install vacuum-based home elevators, some of which take up less space than you might imagine. These are useful for the whole family, but especially for elderly individuals who want to continue moving throughout the house without having to go up and down the stairs. They are at an increased risk of injury from a fall due to their slower reactions and degenerating bones, so take care of your loved ones with alternatives for the stairs.
An older relative has specific medical needs that no other member of the family may be facing. They are at a higher risk of falls, injuries, and diseases that may require solutions to prevent these dangers. Medical alert technologies that are wearable and can alert either family members or medical professionals after an accident could be crucial to have as a part of the home.
Additionally, danger areas like the bathtub may need to be redesigned. Going from a basic tub to one that includes a doorway prevents the individual from having to step over the side too often, risking their balance. The floor of the tub itself may need a new material or a lining that prevents slippery conditions. The toilet seat may need a handlebar installed nearby so that the family member can get up and down easier. Whatever you can do to create a safer environment will be better for their care.
Since older family members are limited in their mobility, they may be less likely to spend time outdoors. For this reason, choosing a space for their bedroom that has sun-facing windows will be better for their health. This will allow them to open the windows, get more fresh air, and get crucial vitamin D from the sunshine that they may not be able to get by going outside all the time.
If you are able to choose a room that has a great view as well, this will be even better. Your loved one is likely to spend a lot of time in that room, so if they have something pleasant to look at, they will be happier. Try not to limit their view to the side of the neighbors house, but maybe to the backyard or the street at the front of the house. The more you can do to create a comfortable setting with a good air conditioner, the better off their health will be, both physically and mentally.
It is best to enter this situation with the mindset that many things will change. Even if your relative is quite independent at the time, it is still an adjustment for an older adult to join your living space, especially if there are children in the home as well. Have an open discussion as a family about expectations and how to make the new resident feel welcome. Often, elderly individuals may feel like an intrusion when they move in, so it is your job to ensure that you are happy to accommodate them. An added bonus is that a strong grandparent presence in the lives of children helps with their development during early ages.
By making changes like these to your home to accommodate your family members, you will set them up to thrive in this new environment while showing that you care for them.